Blimey! New BBC Content on hoopla

There’s just something about British programming that really cuts the mustard. Mystery, period dramas, police procedurals, genius comedy: our cousins across the pond have captured our imaginations and always seem to leave us longing for more. If you’re already a devotee of Acorn TV, then you know exactly what we’re talking about. If not, you’re in for a treat: check out our FAQs page to find out how to get started. But if you’re looking for further brilliant telly, then hoopla has even more content on offer!

You can get your Brit fix from a number of already-curated collections. For a sprinkling of series from various genres, your first stop should be hoopla’s New from BBC category. Included here are the sorts of lifestyle documentaries that are not commonly available without charge in the US, like Top Gear and George Clarke’s Old House, New Home. With these, viewers can get a sense of what the British themselves are actually watching, not just what is commonly exported for Americans’ entertainment.

Crime Solving Sleuths offers tasters for a number of series, from the gritty, like Silent Witness (in which the sleuth confronts her own demons whilst demanding justice for victims), to the classic and charming, like The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries, to the historically and literarily informed The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

Further collections bring you even more to savor, all with a delectable British twist. Well-wrought romances bloom in Love Against the Odds; female protagonists win the day in the likes of bucolic, nineteenth-century Cranford and–on the opposite end of the spectrum–Absolutely Fabulous (have a look at hoopla’s Strong Female Characters). Before They Were Stars curates excellent films featuring the likes of Colin Firth, Olivia Coleman, and Idris Elba before they became well-known here in the States, and Britain at War takes us back to Blighty and offers some unique perspectives on a perennially fascinating period–not least of which is the biopic Wodehouse in Exile, a dramatization of the beloved Jeeves and Wooster series author’s exile from his beloved England.

So say “cheerio” to any fears that you’ve already seen every last British program this side of the Atlantic, and get stuck into some seriously satisfying viewing. If you haven’t tried hoopla, visit our FAQs section to get started. If you’d like to explore the Abbot Library’s BBC DVD collection, you can do so here and get your selections (right now with no charge!) via our convenient curbside pickup service.

Ready, Steady, Listen Up–Again!: More New CD Audiobooks at APL

So, we’ve established that some of us are a bit old-school and still love to pop the odd CD into the player rather than queuing up listens on phones, iPods, or various car streaming systems. (Don’t remember? Have a look at this post). And that’s OK. Fortunately, the Abbot Library caters to both techies and Luddites alike. If you’re one of the former, you can revel in the exceptional content on offer on hoopla and Overdrive/Libby. But if you’d like to check out the latest audiobooks in physical format, look no further than this collection in the library catalog, place a hold, and grab your choice using our popular curbside pickup service!

If you’re a fan of all things British, we’ve got historical fiction, literary fiction, and an autobiography on tap for you. Hilary Mantel’s last volume in her Tudor trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, brings her fictional exploration of Thomas Cromwell’s turbulent life to a close after nearly a  decade. You’ll not want to miss it, and if you haven’t yet read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (or need a refresher), they’re ready for you, too. If you’re an Austenite, you’ll be delighted by Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society, in which a group of unlikely fans unite forces to save a vital piece of literary history (and in the process save each other–click here for a review). Or you can do one better than tea with the Queen: have a listen to the fascinating memoir Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner

Another historical novel by Lisa Wingate (author of Before We Were Yours) will take you to the post-bellum South alongside three women of vastly different experiences and positions in pre-Civil War society–an heiress to a plantation, her unacknowledged half sister, and a slave. Check out The Book of Lost Friends to find out more. 

And if you want a thriller by a tried-and-true master of the genre, you’ll not go wrong with Harlan Coben’s The Boy from the Woods, in which a lone forest dweller assists with an investigation into a girl’s disappearance, or John Sandford’s Masked Prey, which weaves an absorbing tale from incidents of cyberstalking among Washington’s elite.

Firm favorites Emily Giffin and Diane Chamberlain each make an appearance as well, so be sure to have a look!

And for you techies, all but one of these offerings is available in audio format on Overdrive/Libby (The Boy from the Woods can be borrowed as an ebook).

Happy listening!

Anxious Anglophile Therapy: Acorn TV + hoopla

We know you’re out there. Those who flicked on the Queen’s calm, collected, compassionate (and historically rare) televised addresses to her nation on the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who followed the unexpected drama of the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 illness and recovery. Maybe there’s an ancient rootedness, an age-old solidity about the United Kingdom that–despite the recent upheaval of Brexit–appeals to us in our comparatively young and volatile New World. Or perhaps the Brits just have a knack for making us laugh, a good enough therapy in itself. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying Americans’ fascination with and rapacious consumption of British programming!

For Anglophiles, there’s just nothing like Acorn TV. Shows that were once available only on DVD or through subscription streaming are now just a couple of clicks away for Marblehead library card holders. Even better, they’re always available and free. No holds, no waits, no fees. Check out a 7-day pass, and you can blissfully binge-watch until it’s time to check out another pass: no monthly limits or checkout caps. Whether your “comfort genre” is comedy, historical drama, mystery, or documentary, you’ll find plenty to your taste. If you’re the sort who finds solace in schedules (especially in this time of disruption), Acorn TV offers you one, so that you can keep track of offerings that are “Recently Added,” “Coming Soon,” and “Leaving Soon”–you’ll never miss a trick! You can of course browse by category, one of which is currently “Soothing Documentary.” The British really are unapologetic about the value of comfort in these anxious times! 

For those who are already passionate fans of Acorn TV and feel as though they’ve exhausted its possibilities for the moment (though that would take some seriously committed bingeing!), the Abbot Public Library’s newest digital service, hoopla, offers yet more tempting BBC fare. Have  a look at this search of hoopla’s TV category and this one of BBC movies, with 150 and 63 results, respectively. Odds are you’ll find a previously unseen treasure, as there are plenty of titles you may well not have encountered on Acorn – series and films that were popular in the UK but not as widely known in the US.

So, brew yourself a cuppa, butter some toast, and settle in for some seriously brilliant British telly. No therapist’s bills here–just let those plummy accents soothe your stressed-out psyche!

If you’re new to Acorn TV and/or hoopla, have a look at our FAQs page to get started right away! If you need to sign up for a Marblehead library card, you can start here. And do feel free to contact Reference staff at mar@noblenet.org with any further questions.